45NRTH Fasterkatt shoe£199.99

Warmer than expected with an impressively sleek and supportive fit

BikeRadar score4/5

The 45NRTH Fasterkatt takes a mild-mannered approach to winter cycling footwear with a weather-resistant, high-cut upper but minimal insulation. As long as you're not heading out in truly frigid temperatures, this is one of the better foul-weather cycling shoes we've tested.

    As the Fasterkatt is intended for somewhat milder conditions (-3°C/25°F to 7°C/45°F, according to 45NRTH), the last is closer to what you'd expect from a standard cycling shoe and the quality of fit benefits accordingly. Hiding beneath the waterproof, zippered exterior shell is a cam-locked speed lacing system similar to what you'd find on many snowboarding or cross-country ski boots. Once snugged up, the laces distribute pressure evenly across your foot and lock your heel in place.

    The speed lacing system is easy and quick to use, plus it does an excellent job of distributing pressure evenly across the top of your foot. we'd like to see a more secure system, though, that's better able to hold its adjustment over time: the speed lacing system is easy and quick to use, plus it does an excellent job of distributing pressure evenly across the top of your foot. we'd like to see a more secure system, though, that's better able to hold its adjustment over time

    The hidden speed lacing system distributes pressure evenly across your foot

    It's not on par with a good summer shoe, but overall the feeling is better than a full-blown winter shoe that's heavily packed with insulation. Weight is pretty good for a protective shoe with our pair of size 44 testers coming in at 1,175g, including insoles.

    Out on the trail (or road), that translated for us into better performance in terms of pedaling efficiency and a generally more 'connected' feeling to the bike. Thanks to the relatively standard-thickness plate, we didn't have to adjust our saddle height, either. Come the inevitable winter hike-a-bike sections, the generously treaded outsole provided ample grip and cleared snow pretty well, too.

    45NRTH says the rubber compound used on the fasterkatt is specifically designed with winter conditions in mind with

    The heavily treaded outsole provide plenty of grip in snowy and icy conditions

    More important for this segment, we found the Fasterkatts to be plenty warm. With medium-weight wool socks, we were quite comfortable right down to 45NRTH's 3°C/25°F recommended lower limit. Although in concept these are little more than standard shoes with built-in water- and windproof covers, it helps tremendously that they're fully sealed all the way around.

    Aiding things further are the included insoles, which feature felted wool tops, closed-cell foam construction, and even a layer of aluminum to help reflect heat.

    Those insoles are largely responsible for that rather conservative 7°C/45°F recommended upper limit, too. We swapped them out with more typical footbeds for a few warm – but wet – days and found the breathability good enough up to about 13°C/55°F.

    The included insoles add a surprising amount of warmth thanks to felted wool top surfaces and embedded aluminum to help reflect heat: the included insoles add a surprising amount of warmth thanks to felted wool top surfaces and embedded aluminum to help reflect heat

    The included insoles feature felted wool covers that add a surprising amount of warmth

    Those wet rides did reveal a weakness in the design, however. While the snug fitting, high-cut ankle and waterproof zipper do an admirable job of keeping road spray and stream crossings out of the shoe, it doesn't take much grime to clog that zipper up. If neglected, the zipper becomes frustratingly hard to operate – and prone to jamming – so be sure to keep up with the lube.

    The outer shell features a waterproof cover and armoring at the heel and toe: the outer shell features a waterproof cover and armoring at the heel and toe

    The tight-fitting waterproof zippers are prone to clogging with grime so make sure to keep them well lubricated

    Much as we liked the snug fit, we also wished it lasted a little longer as we occasionally had to stop to retighten the speed lacing system. A more secure system would be much appreciated.

    Finally, potential buyers should definitely first try the Fasterkatts on before pulling the trigger as the arch support is quite aggressive. Riders with normal-to-high arches aren't likely to have any issues but flat-footed cyclists might want to look elsewhere.

    James Huang

    Technical Editor, US
    James started as a roadie in 1990 with his high school team but switched to dirt in 1994 and has enjoyed both ever since. Anything that comes through his hands is bound to be taken apart, and those hands still sometimes smell like fork oil even though he retired from shop life in 2007. He prefers manual over automatic, fizzy over still, and the right way over the easy way.
    • Age: 40
    • Height: 173cm / 5'8"
    • Weight: 70kg / 154lb
    • Discipline: Mountain, road, cyclocross
    • Preferred Terrain: Up in the Colorado high-country where the singletrack is still single, the dirt is still brown, and the aspens are in full bloom. Also, those perfect stretches of pavement where the road snakes across the mountainside like an artist's paintbrush.
    • Beer of Choice: Mexican Coke
    • Location: Boulder, Colorado, USA
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